Construction company accused of cutting trees in violation of Forest laws

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A construction company responsible for the construction of the 14.5-km Zojila Tunnel has been accused of violation by cutting a number of trees without seeking permission from the concerned department.

The Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Limited (MEIL) allegedly cut down over 100 trees without seeking proper permission from the Forest department, taking it by surprise.

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The officials of the Forest department said that the trees had been cut in forest area of Nilgrath village where the agency was constructing a road for the proposed Zojila tunnel.

However, the executing agency MEIL denied any such reports of violations and illegal felling of trees.

A senior official of MEIL said that they there had been no violations and the company had not cut down any trees illegally.

“There is no question of any violation. MEIL is a construction agency executing the construction work. Whatever other formalities are to be done are to be looked at by National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), a government subsidiary,” the official said.

He said that all the work was carried as per the rules and after the clearance given by the concerned agencies.

Meanwhile, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Sindh Forest Division Ganderbal, Ovais Mir said that after the reports of illegal felling of trees by the construction company, a team of Forest department visited the spot and found no such thing.

“We visited the spot on Friday. Apart from minor violations while carrying out construction work, there was no such thing that had been reported. Any agency involved in the construction of the road or tunnel is supposed to deposit a specific amount before the Forest department if that agency wants trees hampering the work be chopped off and that has been done already,” he said.

MEIL got the contract to construct the Zojila Tunnel after it emerged as the lowest bidder for the project.

Zojila Tunnel aims to provide all-year connectivity between Kashmir and Ladakh region.

The estimated cost of the project is Rs 4509 crore.